Advancing safe motherhood through human rights.
This report considers how human rights laws can be applied to relieve the estimated 1,400 deaths world-wide that occur every day, an annual mortality rate of 515,000, that women suffer because they are pregnant. Human rights principles have long been established in national constitutional and other laws and in regional and international human rights treaties to which nations voluntarily commit themselves. The intention of the report is to facilitate initiatives by governmental agencies, nongovernmental groups and, for instance, international organizations to foster compliance with human rights in order to protect, respect and fulfill women’s rights to safe motherhood. The report outlines how the dimensions of unsafe motherhood can be measured and comprehended, and how causes can be identified by reference to medical, health system and socio-legal factors. It introduces human rights laws by identifying their sources and governmental obligations to implement them, and explains a range of specific human rights that can be applied to advance safe motherhood. The rights are shown to interact with each other, and for purposes of discussion, they are clustered in the following ways: rights to life, survival and security; rights relating to maternity and health; rights to nondiscrimination and due respect for difference; and rights to information and education relevant to women’s health protection during pregnancy and childbirth. The setting of performance standards for monitoring compliance with rights relevant to reproductive health, and availability and use of obstetric services are addressed. In conclusion, the report considers several strategies to encourage professional, institutional and governmental implementation of the various human rights in national and international laws relevant to reduction of unsafe motherhood, and to enable women to go through pregnancy and childbirth safely. (excerpt)